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From Brendan Schweigart

Poll: Is involuntary hospitalization a solution to homelessness/vagrancy in our society ?

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Small towns and big cities share a common crisis of homelessness, mental illness, and drug addiction

By Andrew Harris

I get a lot of my news from Michael Smerconish and the POTUS Sirius XM channel. Every day they have a poll question and we’ll repurpose one of the most recent for the Sun weekly poll. The question deals with a subject that often is addressed on this site, the plight and impact of the less fortunate among us.

Urban centers have long dealt with the issue of homeless citizens, sometimes in overwhelming numbers. Small towns have been less acutely impacted but that appears to be changing, especially in Wellsville. The underlying causes can be debated, fingers can be pointed, and blame can be assigned ad-nauseum.

A solution to the problem is a much more difficult question.

Recently NYC Mayor Eric Adams made a controversial suggestion that would change how government addresses the issue. Currently in NY, authorities may take an adult into custody if they are clear danger to themselves and others. The devil in the details is the definition of “clear danger.”

Adams would like to extend that defintion and begin “involuntary hospitalization” of those without shelter, show signs of mental illness, and/or addiction.

Data suggests that at least half of all those considered homeless suffer from serious mental health issues. Exasperated by the struggle of living on the streets and high rates of drug addiction, Adams agrues that we shouldn’t be ignoring this segment of the homeless population. Smerconish took that notion a step further asking why do Americans refuse to walk past an injuried dog or cat but ignore a fellow human lying on the sidewalk, clearly wounded ?

Wellsville’s Mayor Randy Shayler echoed that notion during a recent conversation about the growing problems in the village:

“We are failing these people as human beings, we have to do better.”

What do you think? Should a person who is clearly afflicted by mental wounds be treated the same way as a person with a gunshot wound? As it stands, a man walking down the street with an open wound could be taken into government custody for involuntary treatment. A man walking down the street suffering from a mental break caused by addiction is typically ignored unless a crime is committed. Both men are suffering and in danger of dying. Should both be taken into custody and hospitalized ?

What about the Constitutional rights of the homeless vagrant? Another hard reality is that a large percentage of this population are homeless by choice. Whether that choice is impacted by mental health and addiction is certainly part of the debate. The notion of forcibly removing people from life on the streets creates some civil right questions. Regardless of the motivation, the fact is that for many, “skid row,” is home by choice.

What about dilapitated housing and unfit living conditions? We all know of people, especially in rural America, who live in squaller, in homes that should be condemned. Similar mental health and addiction issues exist in those dire situations as well. Would the government power to involuntarily hospitalize the homeless extend to those with a roof barely over their head?

Read the latest, more detailed, analysis of the issue from and vote in their daily poll question!

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